A smartphone app called Baby Check app aims to identify seriously ill babies and will be upgraded to provide improved support to parents and carers.
The Baby Check app, developed by The Lullaby Trust and Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, is designed to reduce mortality, improve early identification of severe illnesses, and prevent unnecessary visits to the GP or A&E.
In an exciting development, The Lullaby Trust has awarded £81,000 to Professor Jos Latour, Professor in Clinical Nursing and Associate Head of Research at the University of Plymouth’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, to update and re-evaluate the Baby Check app, to make sure it has the latest advice and evidence to empower parents and carers.
Professor Latour will work with the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology; Great North Children’s Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne; Imperial College London, and a parent representative from The Lullaby Trust.
Redeveloping the Baby Check app to empower parents
The Baby Check app asks 19 questions that cover signs and symptoms of illness that parents should check. Each question will be scored, and when added up, the higher the number will indicate how unwell the baby is likely to be. Parents will then be advised to take different actions, such as ringing 111 or 999 or calling their GP.
Through the Early Recognition and Assessment of Severely Ill Babies by Parents (EASIER) study, Professor Latour and the researchers will relook at the content, usability, and impact of the app. These changes will be based on research, including the experiences of parents, carers, and healthcare practitioners.
Professor Latour said: “Looking after a young baby is a daunting experience for anyone, and if you suspect something is wrong, it’s important to get the help you need as quickly as possible.
“The research that the app is based on dates from 1991, but while the symptoms of illness haven’t altered, research has progressed. The understanding of carers should be taken into consideration against the app, and no research has been undertaken into the usage of the app by families, which we need to change. We’re really looking forward to getting started and working with all the project partners to empower parents and carers to make the right choices for their infant.”
Healthcare professionals should be using the app
The Baby Check app was updated in 2021, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Post Natal Care guideline stated that healthcare professionals should consider using the scoring system. However, during the update, some limitations were found.
The researchers will use the funding to update the app, revise its content, discuss with parents in the local community, and promote the updated version of the app during antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care.
The team are planning to set up a stakeholder group of parents, carers, and clinicians to review the app; collaborate further with developers to make agreed changes, and analyse how parents use the app. Interviews will be conducted with 25-50 parents, and an online survey will be conducted with around 500 users to measure the impact on parental confidence and anxiety and assess user-friendliness.